As I began writing this article, the official announcement had just been made regarding the appointment of Bishop Michael Duca as the sixth Bishop of the Diocese of Baton Rouge. We welcome our new Bishop and are excited about working with him in the future. He will be following in the footsteps of some of the most dedicated and devout men I have ever known. In my time at St. Vincent de Paul, our Bishops have been Bishop Stanley J. Ott, followed by Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes, and then Bishop Robert W. Muench. What a blessing it’s been to have known these men personally.
Before he retires, I want to take one last opportunity to thank Bishop Muench for everything he has done to make our community a better place, but most of all, for his spiritual leadership of our Diocese and our local Society of St. Vincent de Paul. There are no words to express my respect and admiration for this extraordinary and unassuming man.
As many of you know, Bishop Muench’s father, William Anthony Muench, was a Vincentian in the Archdiocese of New Orleans for nearly 70 years, sharing his time, talent, and treasure in support of the mission of St. Vincent de Paul. His concern for the needy was just one facet of a man who loved Christ and was committed to his faith.
What a gift it is for a child to grow up in a faith-filled home. In rare instances, the result is someone like Bishop Robert Muench, a son who not only lives his faith, but dedicates his life to Christ and the Church. Both William Muench and his son, Bishop Robert Muench, were inducted into St. Vincent de Paul’s Top Hat Hall of Fame in 2010.
For 16 years, Bishop Muench has helped St. Vincent de Paul navigate the challenges of serving God’s poor in our community. His support and guidance have been invaluable. He’s always interested in our work, and he frequently asks, “What’s next?” He wants to know about our current vision, our most recent success, and the next project. I am so grateful that he shares our concern for the needy, and I can’t thank him enough for his confidence in our local Society.
Many of our visions have become realities during the years that Bishop Muench has been a shepherd to us and our community. The need has grown, and at St. Vincent de Paul, we’ve done our best to meet the need. Last year, we served over 266,000 meals, filled prescriptions worth more than a million dollars, and provided over 27,000 guest nights of shelter. We just completed and opened the expansion of our Sweet Dreams Shelter, and we hope to break ground on a new Day Center/Emergency Shelter in the coming months. Our next vision is to build a chapel on our main campus.
Through his support of our efforts, Bishop Muench has exemplified the Gospel message of love and compassion, as well as faith in action. He has played such an important role in our visions and accomplishments, and we are forever grateful for his direction, counsel and encouragement.
-- Michael J. Acaldo - President & CEO, St. Vincent de Paul